Researchline: Anatomy of Human Brain Networks

Mission statement

The purpose of this research line is to investigate the plasticity of structural networks and related vascularisation in the human brain. The translational research reaches from validation of imaging techniques towards the use of these techniques in the clinic practice.

Research areas

Improving and validation DWI tractography

We investigate the structural brainnetworks in normal and affected human brain. The imaging technique which can be used to measure structural connectivity such as DWI tractography is an important measurement tool. This tool still is in development and improvement of the technique and validation is still needed. In vivo and ex vivo measurements are performed on 1.5T, 3T and on high resolution 7T and 11.7T MRI systems.

-SWI-informed diffusion tensor tractography. (Kleinnijenhuis et al. Neuroimage, 2011).


-Validation of DWI-tractography with post-mortem human brain tissue. The focus is on the white matter and gray matter interface because this area is difficult to visualize in DWI tractography and very important in constructing brainnetworks.


In vivo human brainnetworks

-Brain parcellation

In this project mathemathical techniques and DWI data are used to parcellate the cortex of the brain. The ultimate challenge is to create both an in vivo atlas of the human brain and an individual reliable parcellation.


-Structural hubs

In this project hubs, or brain areas which are highly connected with other regions in the brain, are identified and visualized. The hubs correspond with known anatomical areas called heteromodal association areas. Damage of such areas has clinical impact.

-Connectivity of visual networks

In this project the connectivity of the visual human cortex is measured with anatomical and functional (rs fMRI).

-Vascularization of brainnetworks (collaboration in VIP Brainnetworks, Prof Norris)

In this study the vascularisation of the networks in the precuneus of the parietal lobe is investigated with arterial spin labelling (ASL MRI). The hypothesis is that this brain area is more preserved from ischemic damage compared to other brainareas because there is a collateral blood supply to this brainarea.

Clinical studies of lesions and brainnetworks

The developed MRI techniques can be used in clinical research. Which this approach, the (structural) networks and subsequent plasticity in many diseases can be investigated. The results may lead to better diagnosis, recovery-prediction and revalidation monitoring.

-Subcortical ischemic stroke

the effect on the cortex is investigated in patients with subcortical ischemic stroke. The effects on the cortex are measured both in vivo (MRI) as ex vivo (pathology post mortem). This project is in collaboration with the Donders Institute and the departments of Neurology and Neuroradiology in Essen, Germany.

-Lesion study of patients with visual stroke and plasticity after training

In this study the plasticity of the brainnetworks is studied before and after training in patients with a stable visual stroke.

-Neurosurgery of the cerebellum and mutism

This project is in collaboration with the department of Neurosurgery (UMCN). Patients with lesions in the cerebellum (infarct, tumour, post surgery) suffer often from mutism. With anatomical, MRI and clinical studies we investigate the mechanism leading to these symptoms after lesions of the cerebellum. Also the use of DWI tractography before surgery will be investigated.

Cerebellum Klingler Hisse.JPG

-Postanoxic encephalopathy (collaboration in VIP Brainnetworks, Prof van Putten)

Decision making is still extremely difficult in the medical policy in patients on the intensive care. Purpose is to investigate the correlation between EEG patterns as measured on the Intensive Care in patients with postanoxic encephalopathy and changes in the synapses of the cortex as measured with histology in post mortem human brain samples.